The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Susan Hankinson


Research areas include the etiology and prevention of women's cancers, as well as the incorporation of biomarkers into population studies.

Current Research

I am a cancer epidemiologist with expertise in evaluating lifestyle factors as well as a range of biomarkers in relation to cancer (largely breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer) risk and survival. To date, much of my effort has focused on the use of urinary or blood markers to characterize exposure status (or change in exposure status) in relation to disease risk; other projects have evaluated tissue markers to either better understand biologic pathways underlying an exposure, or to define cancer subtypes. A primary focus has been the evaluation of hormones and nutrients in relation to breast cancer risk. I also have an interest in developing biomarkers of chronic stress, and in assessing biologic changes associated with alterations in lifestyle (e.g., change in diet or physical activity). Further, for biomarkers consistently linked to disease (e.g., sex steroid hormones and breast cancer), I have worked to improve disease risk prediction models. Because of this work, I also am a member of the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring.

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Academic Background:

  • BS Nursing, University of Maine, 1979
  • MS Environmental Health, University of Minnesota, 1985
  • MPH Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, 1986
  • ScD Epidemiology, Harvard University, 1992
Tworoger SS, Zhang X, Eliassen AH, Qian J, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Rosner BA, Kraft P, Hankinson SE. Inclusion of endogenous hormone levels in risk prediction models of postmenopausal breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2014 Oct 1;32(28):3111-7. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.56.1068. Epub 2014 Aug 18. PubMed PMID: 25135988; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4171356.
Ahern TP, Tamimi RM, Rosner BA, Hankinson SE. Digoxin use and risk of invasive breast cancer: evidence from the Nurses' Health Study and meta-analysis. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014 Apr;144(2):427-35. doi: 10.1007/s10549-014-2886-x. Epub 2014 Feb 28. PubMed PMID: 24573543; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4010120.
Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group, Key TJ, Appleby PN, Reeves GK, Travis RC, Alberg AJ, Barricarte A, Berrino F, Krogh V, Sieri S, Brinton LA, Dorgan JF, Dossus L, Dowsett M, Eliassen AH, Fortner RT, Hankinson SE, Helzlsouer KJ, Hoff man-Bolton J, Comstock GW, Kaaks R, Kahle LL, Muti P, Overvad K, Peeters PH, Riboli E, Rinaldi S, Rollison DE, Stanczyk FZ, Trichopoulos D, Tworoger SS, Vineis P. Sex hormones and risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women: a collaborative reanalysis of individual participant data from seven prospective studies. Lancet Oncol. 2013 Sep;14(10):1009-19. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70301-2. Epub 2013 Jul 24. PubMed PMID: 23890780; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4056766.
Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Zhang X, Qian J, Sluss PM, Rosner BA, Hankinson SE. A 20-year prospective study of plasma prolactin as a risk marker of breast cancer development. Cancer Res. 2013 Aug 1;73(15):4810-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-0665. Epub 2013 Jun 19. PubMed PMID: 23783576; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3738582.
Eliassen AH, Hendrickson SJ, Brinton LA, Buring JE, Campos H, Dai Q, Dorgan JF, Franke AA, Gao YT, Goodman MT, Hallmans G, Helzlsouer KJ, Hoffman-Bolton J, Hulten K, Sesso HD, Sowell AL, Tamimi RM, Toniolo P, Wilkens LR, Winkvist A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Zheng W, Hankinson SE. Circulating carotenoids and risk of breast cancer: pooled analysis of eight prospective studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012 Dec 19;104(24):1905-16. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs461. Epub 2012 Dec 6. PubMed PMID: 23221879; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3525817.
Contact Info

Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
School of Public Health and Health Sciences
426 Arnold House
715 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9292

(413) 577-4369